The Oilers took to the ice for their second post-Olympic break practice Thursday morning, and as expected, the atmosphere was relaxed at Rexall Place.
"I think guys are happy to get back," Patrick O'Sullivan said after the skate. "I think the most important thing, the thing everyone notices, is we mentally feel refreshed and excited about coming to the rink and playing the sport that we love and get to play at the highest level at."
After enjoying eight days off during the Olympic break, O'Sullivan said it feels "almost like training camp again" and the players have to ease themselves into the on-ice drills.
"I think guys are trying to get their legs under them and get back used to skating. It's amazing how much you notice being off the ice, and you try to prevent injury as much as you can and at the same time feel the puck a little bit.
"It's a little weird with not all the guys being here, but the guys that are in the Olympics haven't stopped playing, so it's our job to get back into it and be prepared for the game that we have coming up," he added.
Fellow forward Dustin Penner also has his sights set on Tuesday's return to action in Nashville.
"It's back to work for us," Penner said. "We have to get ready for the last 22 games, 21 games here because it's going to come fast and hard here in the last five, six weeks."
OLYMPIC FEVER HITS LOCKER ROOM
The Oilers fought a pair of flu outbreaks earlier this season, but this time around the club is encouraging a different kind of fever within the locker room. The Olympics were the hot topic among players, staff and media Thursday afternoon, specifically Team Canada's commanding performance vs. Russia Wednesday night.
Team Canada celebrates win over Russia Wednesday, Feb. 24.
"It seems that they're now firing on all cylinders," Penner said of Canada's men's hockey win. "It took a little while for the team to gel, and obviously after the last game they're feeling really good about their chances and so is the rest of Canada."
When asked if he is also cheering for Oilers teammates Denis Grebeshkov (Russia) and Lubomir Visnovsky (Slovakia), Penner gave the patriotic answer.
"Unfortunately for Grebber and Lubo, I'm cheering for Canada. I hope they do well but I was cheering for Canada last night."
American O'Sullivan has different allegiances but admitted Canada is the team to beat.
"The success that Canada's had in international hockey speaks for itself. It's not a mystery. And in my opinion, they have the best team at the Olympics, but it's a one-game situation and I know firsthand that a team that's not as good can beat a team that's better if you get good goaltending, if you get a timely goal or two.
"So anytime the U.S. beats Canada, it's something for the American guys to be proud of because it doesn't happen all that often."
The Edmonton Oilers returned to the ice at Rexall Place for their first practice since the Olympic break began. The practice was held in the afternoon as the players got their legs back underneath them.
Head coach Pat Quinn talked about what could be expected of the players as they return to the ice following the two-week hiatus. Horcoff also discussed the break while Sam Gagner commented on his injury status.
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